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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Support measures for learners in early childhood and school education


12.Educational support and guidance

12.3Support measures for learners in early childhood and school education

Last update: 27 November 2023

Definition of the target groups

Special attention is paid to children who lack school motivation, who are under-achievers or who are in danger of dropping out from further education or working life. Such pupils may come from disadvantaged home backgrounds or they may be immigrant children who have language difficulties or difficulties of adaptation in the Finnish society due to some other reason.

Specific support measures

Flexible basic education

Flexible basic education activities are intended for those pupils with issues relating to underachievement and school motivation and for those who appear to be at risk of exclusion from further education and employment. Admission to the activities is based on an application submitted by a pupil or his or her parents or guardians. Flexible basic education activities aim to reinforce pupils’ study motivation and life skills in a holistic manner. In addition to completing the basic education syllabus, the objective is to support pupils in their transition to upper secondary level and to provide capabilities for coping with studies. Special attention is focused on working approaches that consolidate the common educational work of parents and guardians and everyone working within flexible basic education. 

Education for immigrant children

Education for immigrant children of pre-primary age (6 years) is implemented in the form of preparatory instruction. The purpose of preparatory instruction is to facilitate immigrant children’s transition to basic education.  Instruction focuses mainly on Finnish or Swedish as a second language. In addition also to Finnish culture, various subjects of basic education and the mother tongue of the pupil. The state financial subsidies makes it possible for the education providers to arrange preparatory instruction.

The minimum amount of preparatory instruction provided for pupils aged 6 to 10 is 900 hours, while the amount for older pupils is 1 000 hours. Pupils can be integrated into Finnish or Swedish-speaking classes already during preparatory instruction when it is possible, such as in sports, music or arts. The law allows special arrangements in religion and the second national language (Finnish or Swedish) as well as in pupil assessment.

The Basic Education Act entitles all pupils to remedial instruction. Education providers can apply for government subsidies to provide remedial instruction for immigrant pupils. Subsidies are available for teaching the national languages, Finnish and Swedish, for learning difficulties arising from language-related problems and for teaching immigrant children’s own mother tongue. The background of the pupils and their improving command of Finnish or Swedish are taken into account in assessment of other subjects. 

Preparatory training for upper secondary education for immigrants 

Immigrants can apply for preparatory education for upper secondary education for immigrants. The purpose is to have more immigrant background students in general upper secondary education. Education lasts for one year (25 courses). 

The goals and contents of the preparatory education are: 

  • improve language and learning skills required in general upper secondary education 
  • increase students' knowledge of Finnish society and culture 
  • improve students' mastery of the concepts and the ways of thinking and expressing ideas used in various disciplines 
  • strengthen students' ability to acquire and apply information, along with their ICT skills 
  • includes general studies, mathematics and languages. In some schools students can also improve the grades in their basic education leaving certificate and/or complete upper secondary school courses
  • each student has an individual study plan.

Vocational basic education preparatory course for immigrants 

Vocational basic education preparatory course for immigrants is intended for immigrants and people of immigrant origin who already have basic proficiency in the language of instruction to prepare them for the start of vocational basic education. A personal study plan is drawn up for each student. Studies last from six months to a year (20-40 study credits). 

The goals and contents of the preparatory course are:

  • improve language and learning skills
  • study special vocabulary of various fields
  • get information on various fields of study and professions to find an appropriate field of education for the student